Yep, that's it. Pretty though, isn't it?
Realization of the Day:
One of the nicest things about gardening is that the littlest surprises can often mean so very much.
A month or so ago, I changed my blog header to a photo that more accurately reflects the season: tomatoes! But ever since then I've felt like a guilty impostor. Oh, those are my tomatoes up there alright—I just picked them back in 2008 (at the end of October!). And while pretty much everyone equates the summer vegetable garden with ripe tomatoes, I don't actually have any growing in my garden this year. Or so I thought.
Yes, they may just be a handful of mystery little cherry types from volunteer plants that sprouted up without my noticing over in the rapidly expanding pet cemetery portion of my kitchen garden (it's been a rough summer all around on the farm), but they're definitely homegrown tomatoes. They count. (I'm backdating this journal entry like I did with the garlic to accurately reflect the harvest date.)
Guilt be gone, the header photo can stay, I'm once again a real tomato gardener who can proudly hold her head up high while floating around the blogosphere. Phew.
I'm of the opinion that you should always have at least one type of cherry tomato plant growing in your garden, because in my experience they offer the best odds of bearing edible fruit. That's especially important when you're gardening in a challenging place like Missouri, where you never know how things will go—or grow—from year to year.
The reason cherry tomatoes are an almost guaranteed winner is simple: they're small. They mature quickly, which means the diseases, pests, plagues, and other terrible things that always seem to happen have less time to show up and attack your plants.
In general I stick to the small to medium sized tomato varieties. Those one and two pounders? Their longer growing season allows way too much wiggle room for disaster to move in, and I learned this the disappointing hard way.
My one exception is Kellogg's Breakfast, an extremely large (for me, at least) sunny orange beefsteak that I did almost give up on. You can read all about them in my August 2006 post, Growing Kellogg's Breakfast Tomatoes and a Colors of Summer Salad with Tomatoes, Zucchini, Sweet Red Peppers, Beet Greens, Basil & Garbanzos. This variety is definitely worth the risk.
Are you growing tomatoes this year? How's it going? Any new favorites? What about failures?
Looking for more tomato talk? Last September I wrote about my favorite varieties of heirloom tomatoes to grow, and a couple dozen of you shared your favorites in the comments section of that post.
Last August (ha - five days later than this year!) my first tomato was ripe, and 42 of you joined in the tomato growing conversation in the comments section of that post. (Your comments are one of the best parts about keeping a garden blog, and I apologize for not being better at replying to them.)
Other tomato growing posts are here:
8/5/06: How to Trim Tomato Plants
9/4/08: How To Freeze Tomatoes the Really Easy Way (and Why I Don't Do Much Canning Anymore) (lots of great comments from other gardeners here)
10/12/08: Growing Tomatoes: How Many Plants Do You Need and What To Do If You End Up with Too Many Tomatoes—Make Easy & Delicious Homemade Tomato Juice! (lots of tomato growing comments here, too)
And my favorite ways to use fresh tomatoes are here:
Pasta with Sun Dried Tomato & Artichoke Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, and Fresh Basil (I practically lived on this stuff last September)
Fiesta Cottage Cheese Veggie Dip (and going on factory tours)
Savory Tomato Pesto Pie with a Foolproof Biscuit Crust (one of my most popular recipes)
Three No-Cook Summer Recipes: Mexican Jumping Bean Slaw, Easy Vegetarian Tacos, & High Kickin' Tomato Dressing
© FarmgirlFare.com, the red, ripe and ready to grow foodie farm blog where first tomatoes or no, I am so ready for this long, hot, incredibly humid summer to be over. But the tomatoes do help a little.